Monday, May 16, 2016

Queens College Revisited: The 1970's (63)

When I was hired by the Council on International Educational Exchange [C.I.E.E.]--while living in the Jamaica, Queens basement apartment--to work as a clerk-typist there during the summer travel season, the hip-seeming, non-authoritarian, white department head in his late 20's, Steve, told me that the seasonal full-time job would only last until the end of August. But during the last week of August, Steve--who had by then recovered from the hepatitis he had contracted earlier in the summer and was now back at work in the C.I.E.E. building office--asked me to come into his private office to speak with him.

After I sat down across from where Steve sat behind his desk, Steve smiled and asked in a friendly tone: "You know I've been pleased with your work. And I was wondering whether you would be interested in continuing to work here for an extra month--or whether you've already made other plans for September?  I realize that it was originally agreed that the job would only last until the end of August. But we're still busy now and we could still use you until October, you you haven't already made other plans."

By the end of August, of course, I couldn't wait to make my escape from being bullied by the culturally-straight, authoritarian, white women, who seemed to be in her 30's, that was my immediate supervisor, for whom I typed up the charter flight passenger manifest lists each morning. And once the woman co-worker in her early 20's whom I was attracted to, Connie, was no longer working in the same C.I.E.E. office and conversing across the desk with me during the workday by late August, there was also no longer any potential romantic incentive for me to want to work an extra month on my temporary travel season job at C.I.E.E..

So I quickly replied to Steve:  "I did already make other plans for September. So it wouldn't be possible for me to work an extra month here. But I thought you were a good department head to work for, Steve."

Because the original official agreement with Steve was that the job would end at the end of August, I also felt confident, as I left the office on my last day of work, that Steve would not contest my eventual claim for unemployment insurance that I was going to file in late September; following my plan to take a Greyhound bus out from NYC to California in early September, stay a week in Berkeley, take a bus down to LA to visit Disneyland (which I had never visited, despite having longed to visit it when I was a child), and then hitchhike across the continent back home to New York City and Jamaica, Queens in the 1970's.